ISBN-10:
0205206697
ISBN-13:
9780205206698
Pub. Date:
10/09/2012
Publisher:
Pearson
Core Questions in Philosophy: A Text with Readings / Edition 6

Core Questions in Philosophy: A Text with Readings / Edition 6

by Elliott Sober

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780205206698
Publisher: Pearson
Publication date: 10/09/2012
Series: MyThinkingLab Series
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 720,754
Product dimensions: 7.30(w) x 9.10(h) x 2.90(d)

About the Author

Elliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor of Philosophy and William F. Vilas Research Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison. His research is in the philosophy of science, especially in the philosophy of evolutionary biology. Sober’s books include The Nature of Selection -- Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus (1984), Reconstructing the Past -- Parsimony, Evolution, and Inference (1988), Philosophy of Biology (1993), Unto Others -- The Evolution and Psychology of Unselfish Behavior (1998, coauthored with David Sloan Wilson), Evidence and Evolution – the Logic Behind the Science (2008), and Did Darwin Write the Origin Backwards? (2011). He won the Lakatos Prize in 1991 and the American Philosophical Association named him Prometheus Laureate for 2008. He has been president of the Philosophy of Science Association and the American Philosophical Association (Central Division). He is currently president of the International Union for History and Philosophy of Science (Division of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science).

Read an Excerpt

PREFACE:

Preface

The philosophical problems investigated in this book concern fundamental facts about our place in the universe. Many of us were brought up to believe that God exists, that there is a real difference between right and wrong, that we can freely choose what sort of lives to lead, and that it is possible for us to gain knowledge of the world we inhabit. A major goal of philosophy is to discover whether these opinions can be rationally defended or are just comfortable illusions.

Core Questions in Philosophy emphasizes the idea that philosophy is a subject devoted to evaluating arguments and constructing theories. This is not the same as describing the history of what various philosophers have thought. Although I discuss historical texts, I do so because they are rich sources of ideas pertinent to answering philosophical questions. The point is not to say solemn and respectful words about worthy figures now dead, but to engage them in dialogue—to grapple with the theories they have proposed, to criticize these theories, even to improve upon them.

Besides proposing answers to philosophical questions, I also try to make clear which questions I have not answered. I hope that the reader will approach what I say the way I have approached the philosophical texts I discuss. This is a book to argue with, to dissect. It isn't my goal to have the reader accept without question the conclusions I reach.

This work is a combination textbook with readings. The text part (which I call "Lectures") is followed by a group of related readings (drawn from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes, Hume,Kant, Mill, and others). The lectures flow together, so that the main areas covered—philosophy of religion, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics—are connected to each other to make a coherent whole.

The lectures are intended to be launching pads from which readers can pursue issues on their own. I believe students are best able to think about philosophy if they first are provided with some basic tools and concepts. It is the purpose of the lectures to provide these core ideas.

Following the lectures in Parts II through V, there are a number of readings; these are drawn mainly from historical texts, although a few are by contemporary philosophers. The lectures often discuss these readings, but the area of overlap is far from total. Many lectures contain material that isn't touched on in any reading; and the readings raise a wealth of issues that the lectures don't address. The lectures are intended to stand on their own as well as to provide points of entry into the readings.

Each lecture is followed by review questions and by problems for further thought. These should help readers to consolidate their understanding of what I have said and to think creatively about related problems. The lectures often contain material in "boxes"; these boxes provide a nutshell restatement of a main idea or a brief discussion of a related matter that may interest the reader. A list of the boxes immediately follows the table of contents. Each main part of the text includes suggestions for further reading. And there is a glossary at the end of the book that provides simple definitions of the main concepts used.

Besides covering a number of traditional topics, this book also takes up some contemporary theories and problems, both from philosophy and from other disciplines. Creationism and evolutionary theory are hotly debated now. The issues they raise are continuous with a tradition of argument in philosophy of religion that goes back (at least) to Aquinas, Hume, and Paley. The relation of mind and body is as old a problem as philosophy engages, but the ideas of Freud and Skinner get a hearing along with those of Descartes. In ethics there has long been a debate as to whether ethical truths are discovered or created. Plato and Sartre are separated by more than 2,000 years, but both speak to this issue. The problem of free will raises the question of whether every event is caused. Here the contribution of modern physics must be brought into contact with a perennial problem of philosophy. Philosophy isn't the same as biology, psychology, or physics, but the problems of philosophy cannot be isolated from the sciences. One aim of this book is to connect philosophical problems with ideas derived from a wider culture.

The etymology of the word philosopher is lover of wisdom. This doesn't guarantee that all philosophers are wise, nor even that each individual philosopher is devoted to the attainment of wisdom. Philosophers should strive for wisdom; whether they do so, and whether they attain it, are separate questions.

Wisdom involves understanding—seeing how things fit together. When the pieces of a puzzle are fitted together, one attains a sense of wholeness. Current philosophy is embedded in a historical tradition of philosophical discourse. It also is connected with problems in the sciences, the other humanities, and the arts. This book aims to give the reader a sense of these multiple connections.

Acknowledgments

My debts to my colleagues in philosophy here in Madison are enormous. A fixed point in my work week has been discussions of the ideas and techniques that go into presenting central problems of philosophy to new students. My philosophical outlook, as well as the view I have of teaching, have been shaped by these conversations.

It is a pleasure to thank Michael Byrd, Claudia Card, Fred Dretske, Ellery Eells, Berent EnC,, Malcolm Forster, Martha Gibson, Paula Gottlieb, Andy Levine, Steve Nadler, Terry Penner, Mark Singer, Dennis Stampe, Daniel Wikler, and Keith Yandell. They were generous enough to suffer my trespasses onto philosophical terrain that belonged more to them than to me. Some read parts of this book and gave me comments; others listened patiently while I tried out what I thought was a new angle.

The first two editions of Core Questions in Philosophy elicited a steady stream of correspondence and phone calls from teachers of philosophy and their students. These took a variety of forms; there was praise and blame, suggestions on how to do better, and even a few not-so-gentle suggestions that I should turn my attention to other projects. On the whole, though, I was happy with what I heard, though this didn't mean that I felt that I should leave the book unchanged. I thank everyone who took the trouble to let me know what they thought. Usually (but not always), they will find evidence that I listened to what they said in the way this edition differs from the ones before.

Deserving of special mention are Richard Behling, Keith Butler, Paul Christopher, Phil Gasper, Ronald Glass, Richard Hanley, John Hines, Burton Hurdle, Charles Kielkopf, Bradley Mouton, Howard Prospersel, Roy Sorensen, and (especially) Stephen Wykstra. Their suggestions for changing the book were extremely valuable.

Writing an introduction to philosophy is a challenge. The challenge is to reconstruct what a problem or idea would sound like to someone who hasn't studied the subject before. The project requires that one return to the beginning—to the fundamentals of the subject. I hope that what I found by beginning again will be useful to those who are beginning for the first time.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Introduction
Chapter 1: What Is Philosophy?
Reading: What is Philosophy - Bertrand Russell

Chapter 2: Deductive Arguments

Chapter 3: Inductive and Abductive Arguments

Part 2: The Philosophy of Religion
Chapter 4: Aquinas’s First Four Ways
Reading: Five Ways to Prove That God Exists - Saint Thomas Aquinas
Chapter 5: The Design Argument
Readings: The Design Argument - William Paley
Critique of the Design Argument - David Hume
Chapter 6: Evolution and Creationism
Chapter 7: Can Science Explain Everything?
Chapter 8: The Ontological Argument
Reading: Debate - Saint Anselm and Gaunilo
Chapter 9: Is the Existence of God Testable?
Reading: The Meaninglessness of Religious Discourse - Alfred Jules Ayer
Chapter 10: Pascal and Irrationality
Readings: Belief in God – What Do You Have to Lose? - Blaise Pascal
The Will to Believe - William James
Chapter 11: The Argument from Evil

Part 3: Theory of Knowledge
Chapter 12: What Is Knowledge?
Reading: The Theaetetus — Knowledge is Something More than True Belief Plato
Chapter 13: Descartes’ Foundationalism
Reading: Meditations on First Philosophy, 1-5 - René Descartes
Chapter 14: The Reliability Theory of Knowledge
Chapter 15: Justified Belief and Hume’s Problem of Induction
Reading: Induction Cannot Be Rationally Justified - David Hume
Chapter 16: Can Hume’s Skepticism Be Refuted?
Chapter 17: Beyond Foundationalism
Chapter 18: Locke on the Existence of External Objects
Readings: The External World Probably Exists - Hans Reichenbach
Yada yada - John Locke

Part 4: Philosophy of Mind
Chapter 19: Dualism and the Mind/Body Problem
Reading: Meditations on First Philosophy, 6 - René Descartes
Chapter 20: Logical Behaviorism
Reading: Other Minds Are Known by Analogy from One’s Own Case -Bertrand Russell
Chapter 21: Methodological Behaviorism
Chapter 22: The Mind/Brain Identity Theory
Chapter 23: Functionalism
Chapter 24: Freedom, Determinism, and Causality
Chapter 25: A Menu of Positions on Free Will
Readings: Determinism Shows That Free Will Is an Illusion - Baron D’Holbach
Of Liberty and Necessity - David Hume
Has the Self “Free Will”? - C. A. Campbell
Chapter 26: Compatibilism
Chapter 27: Psychological Egoism
Reading: What Motivates People to Act Justly? - Plato

Part 5: Ethics
Chapter 28: Ethics–Normative and Meta
Chapter 29: The Is/Ought Gap and the Naturalistic Fallacy
Chapter 30: Observation and Explanation in Ethics
Chapter 31: Conventionalist Theories
Readings: The Euthyphro — A Critique of the Divine Command Theory- Plato
Existentialism - Jean-Paul Sartre
Chapter 32: Utilitarianism
Readings: Defense of Utilitarianism - John Stuart Mill
Principle of Utility - Jeremy Bentham
On Liberty- John Stuart Mill
Chapter 33: Kant’s Moral Theory
Reading Ethics Founded on Reason Immanuel Kant
Chapter 34: Aristotle on the Good Life

Preface

PREFACE:

Preface

The philosophical problems investigated in this book concern fundamental facts about our place in the universe. Many of us were brought up to believe that God exists, that there is a real difference between right and wrong, that we can freely choose what sort of lives to lead, and that it is possible for us to gain knowledge of the world we inhabit. A major goal of philosophy is to discover whether these opinions can be rationally defended or are just comfortable illusions.

Core Questions in Philosophy emphasizes the idea that philosophy is a subject devoted to evaluating arguments and constructing theories. This is not the same as describing the history of what various philosophers have thought. Although I discuss historical texts, I do so because they are rich sources of ideas pertinent to answering philosophical questions. The point is not to say solemn and respectful words about worthy figures now dead, but to engage them in dialogue—to grapple with the theories they have proposed, to criticize these theories, even to improve upon them.

Besides proposing answers to philosophical questions, I also try to make clear which questions I have not answered. I hope that the reader will approach what I say the way I have approached the philosophical texts I discuss. This is a book to argue with, to dissect. It isn't my goal to have the reader accept without question the conclusions I reach.

This work is a combination textbook with readings. The text part (which I call "Lectures") is followed by a group of related readings (drawn from Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Anselm, Descartes,Hume,Kant, Mill, and others). The lectures flow together, so that the main areas covered—philosophy of religion, epistemology, philosophy of mind, and ethics—are connected to each other to make a coherent whole.

The lectures are intended to be launching pads from which readers can pursue issues on their own. I believe students are best able to think about philosophy if they first are provided with some basic tools and concepts. It is the purpose of the lectures to provide these core ideas.

Following the lectures in Parts II through V, there are a number of readings; these are drawn mainly from historical texts, although a few are by contemporary philosophers. The lectures often discuss these readings, but the area of overlap is far from total. Many lectures contain material that isn't touched on in any reading; and the readings raise a wealth of issues that the lectures don't address. The lectures are intended to stand on their own as well as to provide points of entry into the readings.

Each lecture is followed by review questions and by problems for further thought. These should help readers to consolidate their understanding of what I have said and to think creatively about related problems. The lectures often contain material in "boxes"; these boxes provide a nutshell restatement of a main idea or a brief discussion of a related matter that may interest the reader. A list of the boxes immediately follows the table of contents. Each main part of the text includes suggestions for further reading. And there is a glossary at the end of the book that provides simple definitions of the main concepts used.

Besides covering a number of traditional topics, this book also takes up some contemporary theories and problems, both from philosophy and from other disciplines. Creationism and evolutionary theory are hotly debated now. The issues they raise are continuous with a tradition of argument in philosophy of religion that goes back (at least) to Aquinas, Hume, and Paley. The relation of mind and body is as old a problem as philosophy engages, but the ideas of Freud and Skinner get a hearing along with those of Descartes. In ethics there has long been a debate as to whether ethical truths are discovered or created. Plato and Sartre are separated by more than 2,000 years, but both speak to this issue. The problem of free will raises the question of whether every event is caused. Here the contribution of modern physics must be brought into contact with a perennial problem of philosophy. Philosophy isn't the same as biology, psychology, or physics, but the problems of philosophy cannot be isolated from the sciences. One aim of this book is to connect philosophical problems with ideas derived from a wider culture.

The etymology of the word philosopher is lover of wisdom. This doesn't guarantee that all philosophers are wise, nor even that each individual philosopher is devoted to the attainment of wisdom. Philosophers should strive for wisdom; whether they do so, and whether they attain it, are separate questions.

Wisdom involves understanding—seeing how things fit together. When the pieces of a puzzle are fitted together, one attains a sense of wholeness. Current philosophy is embedded in a historical tradition of philosophical discourse. It also is connected with problems in the sciences, the other humanities, and the arts. This book aims to give the reader a sense of these multiple connections.

Acknowledgments

My debts to my colleagues in philosophy here in Madison are enormous. A fixed point in my work week has been discussions of the ideas and techniques that go into presenting central problems of philosophy to new students. My philosophical outlook, as well as the view I have of teaching, have been shaped by these conversations.

It is a pleasure to thank Michael Byrd, Claudia Card, Fred Dretske, Ellery Eells, Berent EnC,, Malcolm Forster, Martha Gibson, Paula Gottlieb, Andy Levine, Steve Nadler, Terry Penner, Mark Singer, Dennis Stampe, Daniel Wikler, and Keith Yandell. They were generous enough to suffer my trespasses onto philosophical terrain that belonged more to them than to me. Some read parts of this book and gave me comments; others listened patiently while I tried out what I thought was a new angle.

The first two editions of Core Questions in Philosophy elicited a steady stream of correspondence and phone calls from teachers of philosophy and their students. These took a variety of forms; there was praise and blame, suggestions on how to do better, and even a few not-so-gentle suggestions that I should turn my attention to other projects. On the whole, though, I was happy with what I heard, though this didn't mean that I felt that I should leave the book unchanged. I thank everyone who took the trouble to let me know what they thought. Usually (but not always), they will find evidence that I listened to what they said in the way this edition differs from the ones before.

Deserving of special mention are Richard Behling, Keith Butler, Paul Christopher, Phil Gasper, Ronald Glass, Richard Hanley, John Hines, Burton Hurdle, Charles Kielkopf, Bradley Mouton, Howard Prospersel, Roy Sorensen, and (especially) Stephen Wykstra. Their suggestions for changing the book were extremely valuable.

Writing an introduction to philosophy is a challenge. The challenge is to reconstruct what a problem or idea would sound like to someone who hasn't studied the subject before. The project requires that one return to the beginning—to the fundamentals of the subject. I hope that what I found by beginning again will be useful to those who are beginning for the first time.

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